Hologram Bride: Part Two
by Jackie Gamber
. . . continued from issue 12 . . .
I found the strength to run again, despite my struggling lungs. Dar'el had told me
to run straight without veering, and I did. I hopped over fallen logs and climbed up
and over craggy trunks, searching in the darkness for a way I didn't know and a hut
I'd never seen before.
A glimmer of something caught my eye, then blinked out. I paused, panting, trying
to decide if I'd imagined it. Then a breath of wind rustled low tree branches and
through waving leaves I saw it again. Torchlight. In a rectangle shape, like a
window. The hut!
I didn't hear anyone following me, but I didn't trust the silence. I lunged for the
hut. I stumbled over something and landed on my hands and knees, right at the
doorstep. The door swung open. A face like a pale honeydew melon peered down
"You must be the bride," said the crone.
I got a strange feeling she was surprised, or maybe disappointed, to see me.
"Come, I'll make tea." She drew me to my feet, though she didn't look like she
ought to be so strong.
She shuffled inside. Her dress was a robe, and it hung off her frame and puddled
around her feet, looking made for someone twice her size. Maybe over time she'd
shrunk inside it and hadn't noticed. Her spine was arched, her hands withered. Her
frizzy hair was the color of butter. "You bleed," she said.
I looked down at my kneecap. A shallow gash oozed crimson down my shin. "It
"It will. Sit." She pointed to a chair, and I obeyed. She scuffled into a brightly lit
corner and pulled a gingham blanket over a sculpture of twisted pipes. Then she
opened a small trunk on a table.
I looked around the room. That's all it was, really; a single room with a cold
fireplace, a bed, a small kitchen-like counter with cupboards and tools on the wall,
and a table. It was no bigger than Dar'el's shed.
"I think the men have hurt Shandra," I said. "Can you help her?"
"How?" The woman looked over her shoulder at me while her hands busily
gathered small tins.
"I don't know. Should we look for her?"
Knocking exploded on the door. The woman pointed a gnarled finger. "There she